Mike Patton – 1922 (Soundtrack Review)

What do you get when you combine the King of Horror with the King of Experimental Metal? Delicious new music from Mike Patton that brilliantly scores the Stephen King offering 1922. All the elements are there for a sure-fire win, and the soundtrack arrives Friday, July 20, 2018, thanks to Ipecac Recordings.

If you think you love heavy music and you don’t immediately recognize the name Mike Patton, well, you’re doing something very wrong. The almighty master of the bizarre, the multi-talented singer, songwriter, actor (voiceover and otherwise), producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Patton fronts the incomparable Faith No More, founded the experimental outfit Mr. Bungle, and has played with a zillion other projects, including (but not limited to) Tomahawk, Fantômas, Dead Cross, Lovage, and Peeping Tom. His talents are endless and his mind is brilliant!

Of the film, Stephen King’s Horror-Thriller novella 1922 was originally published in 2010 as a part of the collection Full Dark, No Stars. The 131-page story details a man’s confession of his wife’s murder, in a kind of modern day spin on obsession and criminality that echoes with notes of The Tell-Tale Heart. Here, in rural Nebraska, Wilfred James narrates his own admission to killing his wife, Arlette, and convincing his son, Henry, to join in the crime. Unfortunately, once the body is cold, dead, and buried, the horror only just begins as Wilfred becomes plagued by rats and his sanity slowly begins to sway.

The film adaptation of the haunting tale, directed by Zak Hilditch (Transmission short 2012, These Final Hours 2013), was released to Netflix on October 20, 2017, and stars Thomas Jane (Boogie Nights 1997, The Mist 2007) as Wilfred, Molly Parker (Deadwood series, The Wicker Man 2006) as Arlette, and Dylan Schmid (Horns 2013, Once Upon a Time series) as Henry.

No stranger to any facet of music, the hard-working Patton has already been involved in multiple film scores, ranging from 2005’s Pinion to 2012’s The Place Beyond the Pines. In fact, this project follows up Patton’s critically-acclaimed work on the latter, which was hailed as being both intelligent in its arrangements and unifying in its different tones. For the 1922 Soundtrack, Patton has composed, recorded, performed, and produced all of the music himself, with editing by Eric Holland (Dopamine 2003, The Place Beyond the Pines 2012) and mastering by John Golden (Melvins, The Used).

The 21 tracks that encompass the 1922 Soundtrack run the gamut across the Instrumental field, from ominous sounds (“No Grave for Mama,” “The Conniving Man”) to offerings like “Mea Culpa,” where bittersweet electronic strings seem to emotionally lament a great loss. There is an intensity, a thrilling build that sweeps into “Sweetheart Bandits,” a formidable vastness that propels the story forward into the stampeding sashay of “Death of a Marriage.” Here, the penultimate moment of marital treason fades into a threnody of guilt.

The delicate string plucks that begin “Murder is Work” weave an eeriness that is a delicious oxymoron, somehow both calming and spine-tingling, a sonic dichotomy that segues flawlessly into the darkly haunting, entirely chilling sounds of “Omaha 1930.” There is an apropos spine-tingling aspect to “Farewell Notice,” while the creep factor goes megawatt on “Thick As Thieves,” which has some jump-scares of its own.

The grandiosity of “Cornfield-(Vertical)” is a luscious, harmonic exploration, which beautifully swims straight into “Mea Culpa 2,” another emotional lament that offers a fluttering resonance. An explosion of strings flitters from “Elphis” (has left the building) into “Magnolia Hotel,” where it slowly dissipates. Next, “We’ll Send Her To Heaven” begins with an ominously resonating sound that grows into deep bass, and creeping, crawling taps of tiny fingernails dancing on the floorboards like rain – or the sound of the dirt raining down upon momma’s cold corpse.

Shimmering, shuddering, “I’d Come To Hate Her” depicts that moment of dark truth and vile reasoning, the confession of guilt. In turn, “Cornfield-(Horizontal)” laments this confession with a beautifully sweeping emotion, like a panoramic shot of sadness. This emotionality ultimately continues into “Secrets Only A Dead Woman Could Know,” where the truth lives beyond the grave. In fact, there is almost a feeling of observant eyes and whispering voices that begins the build of “Dead Woman’s Secrets,” glittering, bubbling truths rising to the surface from the afterlife for a final scare.

Dissonant strings race to tell the tale of the “Problem Wife,” before the gravel falls in “The Deed Is Done,” tumbling into a pit of horror that is something part Psycho and part hope for redemption. Although, ultimately, there is no redemption for “The Conniving Man,” and this all culminates in “Sweetheart Bandits 2 ‘We All Get Caught’,” a cinematic sweep of the landscape that builds and bleeds, pulses and multiplies with both beauty and sadness, love and tragedy.

While some tracks are really nothing more than short amalgamations of synthesized sounds, brought together, the individual elements of the 1922 Soundtrack weave a thrilling tapestry that wonderfully complements its underlying tale. Patton’s sonic flourishes communicate emotion and folly, authoring a sonic story-line that flourishes in its depiction of a man who has committed the ultimate sin, and yet is paying a hefty psychological price for his crimes.

If Patton’s goal is to become the next John Carpenter, there is no doubt that he will achieve great heights in film scoring. Here, his work is suitably chilling, perfectly intense, and always crafted with an artistry that gives the sounds emotional depth even when standing on their own. Resonating beyond the grave, chilling the spines of the living, the 1922 Soundtrack is a magnificent testament to the exceptional artistic talents of Mike Patton. For these reasons, CrypticRock give the 1922 Soundtrack 4.5 of 5 stars.

Purchase 1922:

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